A vivid cross section of the American populace showed up for the former president’s hearing, and photographer Mark Minton was on hand to capture the pandemonium
If one had stared from the steps of Manhattan’s Criminal Courthouse on April 5, you might have caught a glimpse of the American psyche, strung-out and splayed across the small park below. Former president Donald Trump was to be indicted on 34 felony criminal charges, and the event had summoned a frenzied circus of deranged Americana.
Trump impersonators cavorted in prison jumpsuits as midwestern moms guarded their strollers; enraged Republicans donned box-fresh MAGA merch while bleeding heart liberals came to right the wrongs of 2016. There were pro-Trump signs (‘F*gs for Trump’), anti-Trump signs (‘Lock Him Up’), Hillary Clinton cutouts, a saxophonist in a cocktail dress, and scores of baying journalists, determined to get the scoop. In some roundabout way, all of America had shown up, and photographer Mark Minton was on the ground to capture the carnival as it happened.
The chaos materialised when US Representative Majorie Taylor Greene arranged a demonstration in support of Trump, but protestors on both sides of the political spectrum had shown up outside the courtroom. When we spoke to Minton about the scene, he revealed that she was “all but invisible within the throbbing scrum of reporters collapsing in on her”, and that, “nobody could hear anything she was saying”. Rep. Greene reportedly vanished from the fray not long after she arrived.
As expected, the colourful and questionable ways in which Trump supporters express themselves were on full display. While some pro-Trumpers extolled typical Republican values like the return of the traditional family, others were less restrained. In the shadow of a flag that read ‘Trump or death’, the former president’s supporters “shouted ‘two genders’ at the top of their lungs” while dressed in banana costumes. “When I asked why people were dressing as bananas”, Minton recalled, “someone just told me, ‘Ask the liberals. They know why’”.
Although the majority of people outside the courtroom were there to protest the former president, Minton was somewhat amazed by the size and demographic of the pro-Trump cohort. “Both camps were actually very diverse”, the photographer said, “I was honestly surprised by the amount of Asian-American Trump supporters, given the COVID era anti-Asian sentiment among his bloc”.
Initially, the Trump supporters were cordoned off to one section of the park by the police, and the counter-protestors were contained in another section, however, according to Minton, “some attendees infiltrated the camps of their respective opposition”. This inevitable infiltration was spearheaded by the New York political performance artist Crackhead Barney, a Black woman who’d painted her entire body white to resemble adult performer and whistleblowing Trump mistress Stormy Daniels. “Barney insisted she was a white woman”, says the photographer, and “begged the police to kick her just once for the cameras while she rolled around on the ground”.
Despite all the chaos, when asked if he’d experienced any hostility when capturing the crowd, Minton remained surprisingly unscathed. While some demonstrators shied away from the camera, and others accused the photographer of being a government agent, “most people were just happy to be getting attention”. It seems that all of America really did come out that morning.